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Behavior and distribution of emerging pollutants in aquatic systems (BADEPAS)
Start date: 01 Sep 2008, End date: 31 Aug 2011 PROJECT  FINISHED 

"This project focuses on better understanding the occurrence and fate of two of the main general classes of emerging pollutants: synthetic surfactants and pharmaceutically active compounds (PhACs). Surfactants find widespread use in the formulation of detergents, with alcohol ethoxylates (AEOs) constituting one of the highest percentages of the total. There are practically no studies on the environmental behaviour of this surfactant, although recent evidences show higher levels of AEOs in sediments than those found for other synthetic chemicals. PhACs are discharged without effective treatment in wastewater treatment plants, so their presence in the environment is alarming because, although detected at low concentrations, they may represent a risk for aquatic organisms or even human health. The main objective of the proposed project is to identify and understand the occurrence, sources, and biogeochemical fate of AEOs and of a selection of wide used PhACs, in two different coastal areas (New York/New Jersey Harbor) along the East Coast of U.S., and in sewage contaminated aquifers, and to compare and contrast the findings with those from similar studies at different aquatic systems in the SW of Spain. This research will be carried out employing different innovative methodologies (injection experiments, dated sediment cores, new analytical protocols…), which will allow covering certain aspects (e.g., migration through aquifers, anaerobic degradation, effect of sorption in bioavailability…) where there is scarce or even no information at the present time. Thus, the proposed work will provide a better basis for assessing the risks associated with emerging contaminants in urbanized coastal/estuarine waters and groundwater, provide more information of their chemical properties and conditions at sediment environments that favour chemical preservation in the environment and, finally, constitute a useful tool for preparing future European environmental policies and laws."
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